$4 million to boost youth mental health services in Gympie 

Federal Member for Wide Bay and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives Llew O’Brien has secured a new $4 million investment to upgrade headspace Gympie to a full-service centre, increasing staff and tripling the number of available appointments every month. 

“Improving mental health outcomes is critically important and we need local services to meet local demand, so this expansion means more young people will be able to access more support and assistance,” Mr O’Brien said.

“In 2018 I worked with Minister Hunt and the Primary Health Network to bring headspace to Gympie and since that time the demand for the service has grown.

“When meeting with Youturn Youth Services Clinical General Manager Nick Fawcett in June 2020, he informed me that demand for Gympie’s headspace satellite was growing beyond its contract to deliver 100 appointments a month, so I wrote to Minister for Health Greg Hunt to ask that funding be provided to expand the service.

“I wrote to Minister Hunt again in September, sharing concerns that more young people are seeking help in Gympie and presenting to the headspace service with greater needs, and in February this year, I spoke in Parliament to highlight the need for Gympie to become a standalone headspace operation.

“In the May Budget there was a funding allocation to expand five satellite headspace services into full headspace centres. I again lobbied Minister Hunt on behalf of our community, he listened and acted, and now Gympie has its own full headspace centre offering the range of services,” Mr O’Brien said.

“This additional $4 million in funding will allow Gympie headspace to expand from having two clinical staff working four days a week, to now being able to engage up to six clinical staff, a centre manager and a community engagement officer, which will allow the centre to open five days, provide about 300 appointments a month, and also do community outreach such as school visits.

“It means more young people in the area will be able to access tailored mental health services and other support programs including physical health education, advice on substance misuse prevention, and social and vocational support.

“This new investment will make a significant and practical difference to the lives and wellbeing of young people in the Gympie region, and it is part of the Morrison Government’s commitment to improving mental health services in Queensland and across the nation.”

Youturn Youth Support General Manager Clinical Service Nick Fawcett said the expanded headspace service would ensure more young people were able to access support locally, in a comfortable environment.

“I’m really pleased for the young people and families in Gympie that they now have a service that meets the needs of the area,” Mr Fawcett said.

“Our two clinical staff have done an outstanding job since 2018, and it’s fantastic that we will now be able to add more team members and offer support to more young people.”

The Gympie headspace service is funded through the Australian Government commissioning agency Central Queensland, Wide Bay, Sunshine Coast PHN, and PHN CEO Pattie Hudson welcomed the increased support for the service.

“The PHN’s mental health team were strong advocates for the satellite headspace that was established in 2018,” Ms Hudson said. 

“We’re thrilled the Federal Government has now committed to upgrade that satellite centre to a full headspace centre, which will allow for additional senior clinicians and increased service levels. 

“Better access to services will have a huge impact on the wellbeing of young people in Gympie who need holistic support, and we look forward to collaborating with the community to build a service that suits their needs.”

Many young people have also been substantially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, making it more important than ever to ensure access to youth mental health services. In the 2021-22 Budget the Government committed $278.6 million to expand and enhance the national headspace network. 

Minister for Health and Aged Care Greg Hunt said headspace offers a safe, welcoming place where young people can get non-judgmental professional help and peer support, so they can tackle their challenges in a way that is right for them.

“headspace provides free or low-cost youth-friendly primary mental health services with a single entry point to holistic care,” Minister Hunt said.

The funding reinforces our Government’s strong commitment to achieving better mental health for all Australians and will complement the existing investment of $6.5 billion in mental health services in 2021-22.

The Gympie service opened as a satellite service from headspace Maroochydore in July 2018. Central Queensland, Wide Bay and Sunshine Coast Primary Health Network, which commissions headspace services, will receive an extra $4 million over four years from 2021-22 for the upgrade.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Barnaby Joyce said the Federal Liberal and Nationals Government’s support was a huge win for the Gympie community.

“Hard-working Member for Wide Bay Llew O’Brien continues to deliver for infrastructure and services for the communities he serves, and today’s announcement is another example of this record of delivery in action,” Mr Joyce said.

“Our Government’s support for regional communities is rock solid – whether it’s investing in mental health services and facilities, ensuring people get home sooner safer by upgrading the Bruce Highway between Cooroy and Curra, or delivering millions of dollars for local community infrastructure under initiatives like the Building Better Regions Fund.”

Anyone experiencing distress can seek immediate advice and support through headspace (https://headspace.org.au/eheadspace/), Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800), Beyond Blue (1300 224 636), Lifeline (13 11 14), or the Government’s digital mental health gateway, Head to Health (www.headtohealth.gov.au).